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Glaucoma is an eye condition in which increased pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve, causing progressive, permanent vision loss. Although it is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, myths persist about its cause and treatment. Here are five myths about glaucoma, along with the facts you need to know.

Myth #1: There is only one type of glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle glaucoma is more common, accounting for about 90 percent of all glaucoma cases. In open-angle glaucoma, the pressure in the eye increases slowly over time. In angle-closure glaucoma, the pressure in the eye rises suddenly and sharply. Left untreated, both types of glaucoma can lead to irreversible vision loss.

Myth #2: Glaucoma only affects one eye

Glaucoma usually occurs in both eyes, but pressure often increases in one eye first. This raised pressure may damage the optic nerve, resulting in gradual vision changes. Often, your peripheral (side) vision is affected first, so the change in your vision may not be immediately apparent. With time, your central (direct) vision will also begin to be affected.

Myth #3: Glaucoma only affects the elderly

While glaucoma is most common in people over age 60, it can affect anyone at any age. A number of other factors may put you at a higher risk of developing glaucoma, including a family history of glaucoma and being of African-American descent. Other risk factors include diabetes, myopia (short-sightedness), hypertension (high blood pressure) and ocular hypertension (raised eye pressure). If you have one or more risk factors, you should schedule an eye exam every at least once every two years.

Myth #4: Glaucoma has severe symptoms

Glaucoma has very few symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms do occur, they may come and go or become steadily worse. You may notice hazy vision, eye pain or rainbow-colored halos around bright lights. By the time you notice these symptoms, you may have already lost some of your vision. Early detection through regular eye exams is the key to protecting your vision.

Myth #5: Glaucoma is a curable condition

At present, there is no cure for glaucoma; however, treatment can help control the condition. Glaucoma is typically treated with eye drops or oral pills that help control the pressure in your eye. If these treatments do not work for you, your eye doctor may recommend surgery.

If you have glaucoma, or are at risk of developing the condition, it is important to seek eye care from the optometry experts here at Southwestern Eye Center. Early detection and treatment of eye conditions like glaucoma can mean the difference between normal and lost vision.